Local election limits long overdue

NDP moves to limit donations for municipal politicians

The provincial government’s bid to limit municipal political donations is long overdue.

Legislation tabled Monday by Municipal Affairs Minister Selina Robinson would prohibit corporate and union donations to political candidates and local slates. Further, it would cap political donations in the municipal political arena to $1,200 per person, per year.

And – importantly – it would come into effect before voters head to the civic polls next fall.

Anything that would take big money out of the local political landscape cannot come too soon.

It is an egregious elephant in the room of local politics, not because it guarantees wrongdoing but because it well-nigh guarantees the perception of it at one point or another.

And perception – as many have learned – is often as important as fact in politics.

To permit large-scale donations as accepted practice in local politics is virtually an open invitation for accusations, regardless of how baseless they may be.

No matter how pure in motive politicians are, no matter how much they believe they are pursuing the best interests of the average taxpayer, there is no way large-scale contributions cannot be influenced by some sense of indebtedness.

It is simply human nature to view with friendliness a proposition that comes from a known supporter.

It can encourage a process of rationalization in which politicians may well believe they are acting for the good of the community.

But such rationalizations can also be the beginnings of the proverbial ‘slippery slope’ in which worthy objectives are subtly compromised.

Cynics, of course, will observe that there will be ways around the proposed limits – that the rules will encourage ‘shadow’ slates of candidates and more devious routes for funneling money into campaigns. But it’s time that clear lines are drawn, if only so we can see all the more clearly when they are being overstepped.

– Black Press

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